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Let’s all stop paying taxes until

EDITORIAL
By Tania Ngima | February 9th 2017

I think we should all, effective February, stop paying our taxes. I have no doubt that KRA’s ears just perked up at this statement.

Well, keep reading because if you disagree with me by the end of this article, you must be one of two things; steeped in naiveté or blindly optimistic.

Or you could be one of those who lie hawk-eyed in wait for the taxes we pay so you can fritter away our hard-earned monies on things like champagne on ice for undeserved (and unendorsed) victories.

The purpose of tax collection is to raise funds for the basic amenities that the Government is entrusted with – health, security and defence, roads and transportation, education. The list, just like how much we are taxed, goes on and on.

But our taps have run dry, the famine-stricken population is increasing, with the estimates by April projected to hit 4 million, many of our roads resemble something from the 1950s, public transportation is running even more amok and the threat of insecurity is constantly at the back of our minds.

So, again, I ask, why are we still paying taxes? From where I am seated, there seems no valid reason to contribute to the country’s coffers, we are now at the ‘kila mtu abebe msalaba wake’ (everyone should carry their own cross) stage.

And the biggest bane; Kenyans still have no access to public health services. Yes, I am still raising ruckus over the absurdity of the one and only thing we should be talking about yet we are torn up in a million other sideshows.

Over and above the doctors who downed their tools over two months ago, I hear that medical personnel including clinicians, pharmacists and lab technicians in some counties have also paralysed healthcare over pay-hike irregularities.

And while you would expect the health crisis to be top of every politician and leader’s agenda, the only thing that they are concerned with is getting us to register as voters so that, as they fallaciously tell us, ‘we can exercise our choices in the coming elections’.

Well, I’m sorry but as long as you are not agitating for our biggest pain right now, none of you feature in my choices.

Are we still confused about why there exists so much voter apathy this year? Why headline after headline keeps announcing a below-par performance in voter registration? Why in some areas, voter turnout has a shortfall of more than 50 percent of the targets?

Kenyans are tired, worn out and they are resigned. Remember March 2013. We were all excited; we did not need to be urged to go to the polls.

All the signs pointed to a new dawn in the country’s leadership. For the first time we were putting our country in the hands of technocrats, of young blood. These people, they get it, we thought.

They understand our pain and they are more connected to our intrinsic needs, they are smart and they have the energy to lead.

Most of all, they can speak the same language we speak and they appreciate how important it is to create a level playing field where we all have access to the same opportunities.

Here we are, four years later and we could not be further from where we started. Kenya has turned into a bandit economy.

Corruption and grand looting have taken off at breakneck speed, unemployment is at an all-time high, firms are shutting shop and shipping out, insecurity keeps rearing its ugly head and the playing field has never been more uneven.

Kenya is in the throes of state capture, and we have leaders who are either at best unwilling to confront the new status quo or at worst instigators and complicit to criminal conspiracies.

Can we understand why, for the Kenyans who have not fed their children a proper meal since the drought started, asking them to make sure they vote is farcical and pretentious?

Why, for the families that have lost a breadwinner or a young one to the lack of medical services, agitating for voter registration is not at the top of their to-do lists?

Then again, maybe these people, these ones who make up the bulk of the voters who actually turn up at the polls, maybe they are not important.

There aren’t many instances in my life when I have felt embarrassed by my citizenship.

My sojourns abroad consist of unabashedly declaring myself patriotic and a firm believer of my country and of overcoming the odds stacked in our favour.

Now, though, I go through my trips hoping that I do not get drawn into a discussion that will require me to extol the joys of the country I come from because no matter how I look at it, there is nothing that, today, delights me about being Kenyan.

Can we, for once, just stop the sideshows and focus on the things keeping us awake at night? And while we’re at it, can we just refuse to pay taxes until we have a semblance of sanity in the country?

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